Happenings at the Statehouse
Editor’s Note: This article is from a previous General Assembly. However, we continue to provide our members with this information as a reference and as a demonstration of our continued statehouse activity.
This week the legislature met on Monday and Tuesday for lame duck sessions, which are the final days before the next General Assembly begins. This is often a time where large, sometimes controversial, legislation is passed.
In the weeks prior to the lame duck session, Senate President Cullerton and Minority Leader Radogno and their staffs spent time negotiating a plan that would create several reforms to put the State on a path to a balanced budget. These negotiations did not include Governor Rauner, House Speaker Michael Madigan, and House Minority Leader Durkin. The Senate plan was being designed to end the current impasse. The Senate plan was revealed publicly on Monday morning.
The plan included several elements including but not limited to tax increases, leadership term limits, pension reform, and a minimum wage increase. The most important element of the plan to the ICS was workers’ compensation reform. The Senate workers’ compensation reform plan included a provision that would limit chiropractic care, physical therapy, and occupational therapy to 24 visits per claim.
This ultimately meant patients would not be able to have any treatment after 24 visits for chiropractic care covered by worker’s compensation. This also indicated if a patient had 24 visits of physical therapy but wanted to choose chiropractic for further care, the patient would have been unable to do so. The patient would have maxed out his or her allowable limit of visits that would be covered by worker’s compensation.
The ICS is adamantly opposed to the limitation of chiropractic care visits and the reduction in a medical fee schedule. The ICS opposed the care limitations on the following points:
Current Utilization Management Provisions:
Current worker’s compensation laws already protect unnecessary visits by patients for care. The current utilization management provisions already require medical necessity and manage the amount of care a patient receives. Therefore, further limitations are unnecessary.
Limiting the choices for care for patients is provider discrimination and is prohibited by both statute and case law. The Medical Practice Act specifically prohibits discrimination and acknowledges the parity of all physicians licensed under the Act. In 2003, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the status of chiropractic physicians in Vuagniaux v. Department of Professional Regulation et al., 208 Ill.2d 173.
Patients should feel comfortable knowing that any diagnosis is being made with his or her best interests in mind. One of the most significant, fundamental rights granted to injured workers under current law is the ability to see physicians of their choosing. Limiting chiropractic visits limits the right of injured workers to be treated by the physician of their choosing.
The ICS also opposes any reductions to the medical fee schedule. The plan specifically had a reduction in radiology services. The ICS opposed these reductions on the premise that reductions were already made under the 2011 Worker’s Compensation Reform, and further reductions would be devastating to providers.
After very some long meetings with their members on Monday, the Senate Leaders decided not to call their plan for a vote. The Senate Leaders have committed to refiling their plans for the 100th General Assembly, which began on Wednesday, January 11, 2017. The plan was written in a way that required all components of the plan, including tax increases, to be included in the law. If not all of the pieces are included, then no single part of the plan will be valid. The unknown variable is whether or not Speaker Madigan will be willing to pass the plan in the House of Representatives.
This issue remains a top priority for the ICS. We thank everyone who responded to Monday’s Action Alert. We will keep members posted on the issue, as well as any other issues that may arise, as we proceed through this next legislative session. If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact the ICS.